Rec Friday : Strawberry on the Shortcake aka Saeki knows what he’s talking about
So these are the two main characters, Yui and Manato and they sure do like lovers from the screencaps right? Well, they’re siblings.
But wait, let me start from the beginning. [btw my generic reviews/recs will always be spoiler-free unless otherwise stated]
Manato is an apathetic teenager, leading an indifferent life since his mom moved out- in order to copy with his everyday life, he has created a play-part persona that lets him ignore the emotional baggage and the unhappiness he feels. All that start to change when Yui, a carefree and honest girl appears in his life; she’s the daughter of the woman his father remarries.
The other two characters that impact the story, are Saeki, a 2year flunking senior who has an off and on relationship with teacher miss Mariko, and Sawamura, the childhood friend of Manato who has a crush on him but Manato is oblivious to it.
Oh wait, did I mention that Yui likes Saeki too? Huuum, this is like a big love…rectangle right?
Fret not, putting romance aside what’s more important is that all of these people are bounded first and foremost by friendship and some serious discussions among all this romantic mines.
oh wait, I said serious discussions right? That’s better.
But there is romance, and actually from the first episode, we have a future narration leading us to believe that Manato is/was (?) in love with Yui and how he will never forget her, while certain events unfold that let us know why that is. (and don’t think you have guessed how it’s gonna go, seriously there are many u-turns in the series)
The story isn’t something unique but it is wonderfully written– there are many twists like I said (make sure to watch after the credits btw, like, really make sure) that keep you guessing which way it’s gonna go ultimately. The pace can be relatively slow but there’s a reason for it- and that is the genuine approach on how teenagers act. That means you will see impulsive actions that might make you think “hmmm, that seems like careless behavior” or other “cowardly” moments but that’s how everyone navigates through life, isn’t it?
The characters evolve in their own way, and their flaws are easily forgiven because they’re presented in a simple, honest way. Of course the cast plays a major role on that front as well. There is brilliant acting from everyone but Kubozuka Yosuke is the highlight- his portrayal of Saeki is simply superb. His mannerisms and how he depicts certain lines is just magnificent. Not to mention at one point he delivers a very powerful speech (one of the greatest I’ve ever heard) in such a way that you will clap at your screen.
The soundtrack is decent, there are a few ABBA songs that will definitely get stuck in your head for weeks (“chiquitita you and I knooooow”, yes you will sing that for many days after the show ends lol) and a couple instrumental pieces that let the scenes flow nicely.
To conclude, this is an emotional, delicate drama with complex characters that will definitely stay with you after you have finished it. Everything is thought-out and each episode offers gem quotes that will make you think and ponder about life. Like a good philosopher, hehe.
So, do you guys eat the strawberry first because you can’t wait or do you patiently wait to savour it in the end? I know I eat it before I even unwrap the damn thing. : p